Black Lives Matter rally attendee confirmed to have novel coronavirus: Middlesex-London Health Unit

A woman who attended the Black Lives Matter rally in London, Ont., on June 6 has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, according to the Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU).

The MLHU said Monday that it was notified about the case on Sunday. The health unit says it has been in contact with the individual, identified only as a woman under 50, and has confirmed she was wearing a mask during the demonstration and did not have symptoms.

“This is a very low risk situation for a number of reasons. First of all, the individual never had symptoms, simply went in after the protest to make sure they were taking all the appropriate precautions to protect the community around them,” medical officer of health Dr. Chris Mackie said.

“The second positive in this case, is that this is an individual who was wearing a mask at the protest and took precautions around physical distancing. For those that were at the protest, this really doesn’t change the risk calculation.”

Spike in coronavirus cases not likely following Saturday’s Black Lives Matter rally, Mackie says

The announcement comes just over a week after the June 6 rally, which drew a crowd of roughly 10,000 to Victoria Park.

Mackie had said June 8 that he didn’t expect there to be a spike in cases as a result of the rally, noting that when considering all of the openings and increased contact “across our whole society right now,” the protests are a “relatively small contributor.”

He added at the time that the protests may bring about “a bump” in cases — cases that would likely be reflected in the regional tally in seven to 10 days — but stressed that the vast majority of demonstrators he saw followed the advice and wore masks.

As of Monday, June 15, the health unit says there’s no indication that the person now confirmed to have COVID-19 was infected at the protest or that she was infectious at the time.

Anyone who attended the event is asked to monitor themselves for symptoms until two weeks after the initial rally, June 20 — which coincides with another Black Lives Matter demonstration in London — but the health unit says there’s no “increased need” for those who attended the June 6 event to seek testing for the coronavirus.

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“We know that the coronavirus is still present in our community, that’s why we continue to emphasize the need for people to take the necessary precautions to prevent it from spreading,” says Mackie.

With our region moving to Stage 2, there’s still the need to stay six feet away from others, wash hands frequently, cough or sneeze into your sleeve and increasingly, use a face covering when you go out into the community.”

Ahead of the upcoming rally on Saturday, June 20, the health unit is reminding those who decide to attend “to do all they can to reduce the risk of transmission,” including maintaining physical distancing, using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer frequently and wearing a face covering for the duration of the event.

— with files from Global News Radio 980 CFPL’s Matthew Trevithick.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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